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Rape suspect who faked own death to be extradited from UK after court ruling

Nicholas Rossi and the distinctive tattoos that led to his arrest
Nicholas Rossi and the distinctive tattoos that led to his arrest Copyright Pawtucket, RI Police Department
Copyright Pawtucket, RI Police Department
By Euronews with AFP
Published on
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Nicholas Rossi was identified by his distinctive tattoos, which he falsely claimed had been added to his body while he was unconscious in hospital.

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A British court has given the go-ahead to the extradition of an American facing rape charges in the US who faked his own death to avoid prosecution.

Nicholas Rossi, 35, who was the subject of an Interpol notice, was arrested in October 2021 while being treated for COVID-19 in a Glasgow hospital. He falsely claims to be the victim of mistaken identity.

He had claimed to be Arthur Knight, but police and carers had identified him as Nicholas Rossi – a man wanted by the US justice system as part of an investigation into the rape of a woman in Utah in 2008 and other sexual assaults – via distinctive tattoos pictured in an Interpol description.

In 2019, while living in the US state of Rhode Island, Rossi claimed to be suffering from late-stage non-Hodgkins lymphoma, and obituaries using his real name were published shortly afterwards in local media.

US authorities claim he has used as many as 16 aliases over the years, including Nicholas Alahverdian.

In mid-November, an Edinburgh court officially identified him as Rossi, deeming his explanations to be "improbable and fanciful".

Even as the court ruled in favour of his extradition on Wednesday, Rossi maintained that he is the victim of mistaken identity. He has claimed the tattoos were done without his knowledge while he was unconscious in the hospital.

He also said that his fingerprints, taken at the hospital, had been swapped with Rossi's in order to pass him off as the wanted man – and explained that he was unable to provide a birth certificate under the name of Arthur Knight because he was born an orphan in Ireland.

During the extradition hearing in June, he appeared in what he described as the clothes worn by Orthodox Jews, explaining that he had converted in prison.

He also appeared in an electric wheelchair and wearing an oxygen mask, but a doctor ruled that there was no medical reason for this, describing his legs as "strong and athletic".

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